With families told to batten down the hatches and stay safe during Storm Barra, here's one family-friendly Christmas recipe to keep their minds active and their little hands busy while schools are closed.

Children from as young as 12-months will enjoy mixing, kneading, and cookie cutting some gingerbread cookies for Santa and his reindeers. You can even decorate them and hang them on the Christmas tree as a festive ornament.

Whether it's counting out ingredients, cracking eggs or rolling dough, little ones of all ages can offer a helping hand. Give them bowls of various ingredients and let them explore and enjoy the sensory experience.

The Tripp Trapp chair from Stokke, suitable from infancy to adulthood, offers a stable and ergonomic solution for children working at the kitchen table.

Child development expert Ollwyn Moran of Cognikids, believes that baking gives your little one ample opportunity to develop and use both hands together in a coordinated way.

"Sifting flour, rolling balls of dough, using a rolling pin, and flattening dough with the hands are all great ways of letting kids practice their bilateral coordination skills. Good bilateral coordination skills can help children master other skills later on, like tying their shoelaces or cutting with scissors."

Siobhan Berry of Mummycooks.com has her own family-friendly recipe for Gingerbread Cookies and is suitable from 12-months.

"While the decoration of the cooled cookies can provide hours of entertainment and weaning babies from 12-months can enjoy their texture and flavour. When I make these with my girls, we make a small hole at the top of each cookie for a ribbon, and we hang a few on the Christmas tree."

Siobhan Berry
Siobhan Berry

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes: 5 x adult portions.

Not suitable for babies under 12 months due to sugar content.

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 75g butter
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the egg, maple syrup and baking powder, mix thoroughly.
  3. Sift the flour and spices in a separate bowl.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then shape the dough into a bowl and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough out into a thin layer and cut cookies into desired shapes.
  6. Place on a parchment lined baking tray, and bake in the oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until golden.
  7. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.